Skip to content

Manuel Pellegrini already proving his worth at Manchester City

Aug 19, 2013, 7:58 PM EST

Manchester City v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

Unsettled prior to taking the field at the Etihad Stadium, Newcastle proved an easier opponent than most expect. That they were already underdogs meant Manchester City, one of the Premier League’s favorites, were likely to roll over the Magpies tonight. And they did. The game proved a much easier debut than Manuel Pellegrini could have possibly expected.

Given how City played from the opening whistle, however, it’s impossible not to give the Citizens’ new manager a huge dose of credit. Each weekend we see good teams overwhelm bad ones, but it’s relatively rare that we see the sword swung from the opening moments. For every 7-0 shellacking Barcelona gives an opponent, you’ll see handful of dominant but less ruthless performances from teams like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Chelsea. But while creating four chances in the first six minutes, City began with an intensity that spoke to their preparation.

Still, attitude is only one facet of a team’s preparedness. Another is having a plan in place, and in the way City executed, there was no doubt you were watching a Manuel Pellegrini team. The formation — a fluid 4-4-2 using two interiores above the midfield’s sitting pair — was reminiscent of what Pellegrini’s used elsewhere, most successfully at Villarreal. Possession-based, though favoring opportunism over gratuitous ball-hogging, Manchester City’s architect would have been obvious had you missed his spring arrival.

Perhaps because they’re broadly based on a 4-4-2 system, Pellegrini’s ways produce a particular kind of balance, one that can manifest as the today’s dominance or the opportunism we saw last spring from Málaga. While pushing Borussia Dortmund to the brink in Champions League, Málaga weren’t afforded the same control City had today, but while maintaining a straight forward approach that helps ensure a confidence of movement and a certainty of position, the system is proved versatile. It has all the virtues Roy Hodgson espouses of his 4-4-2’s, yet augmented with elements of flexibility and style — allowing talented players more room to read and adjust to each others’ tendencies — Pellegrini’s approach product is more attractive. It’s also more likely to work with extremely talented, more ambitious teams.

This was why so many were high on Pellegrini’s move to Manchester – why former Barcelona executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain were so keen to bring him from Málaga after Pep Guardiola chose Munich. His spells at Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Málaga never won leagues (as Roberto Mancini’s backers noted), but they were also never favored to do so. His accomplishments at those clubs (second place finish; second-highest all-time season points total; Champions League quarterfinal appearance), augmented by his titles in South America, are more than enough to justify Pellegrini’s support.

Ultimately, days like todays will do more to win over doubters than anything on Pellegrini’s CV. Those who didn’t want Mancini fired aren’t holding grudges, but when the inevitable down points of the season befall City, it will help to have them convinced. With a couple more performances like today’s, City fans will be soon be Pellegrini faithful.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Dani Osvaldo elects for Juventus return, making early Giovinvo exit possible

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:30 PM EST

    Dani Osvaldo, Inter Milan Dani Osvaldo, Inter Milan

    Osvaldo-to-Juventus could mean Giovinco-to-Toronto happens six months early.

  2. David Beckham says progress still being made toward MLS stadium in Miami

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    David Beckham David Beckham

    The latest update from Beckham on building a stadium, bringing an MLS team to Miami.

  3. DONE DEAL: Mattia Destro, Juan Agudelo sign with new clubs AC Milan, New England Revolution

    Jan 29, 2015, 7:10 PM EST

    Mattia Destro, AS Roma Mattia Destro, AS Roma

    What went down on Thursday, the 29th day of this January transfer window? A full recap, inside.

  4. Juan Agudelo signs with New England Revolution, completes return to MLS

    Jan 29, 2015, 5:36 PM EST

    Juan Agudelo, FC Utrecht Juan Agudelo, FC Utrecht

    Agudelo is back in MLS, where he probably should have been all along.

  5. Russia to cut budget for 2018 World Cup, as economy continues to struggle

    Jan 29, 2015, 3:18 PM EST

    FIFA FIFA

    Putin and Russia have already had to cut costs for the 2018 World Cup.

  6. Alexis Sanchez an injury concern for Arsenal

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:43 PM EST

    Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League

    Arsenal’s main man is touch and go for this weekend’s game against Aston Villa.

  7. Daniel Sturridge could return from injury for Liverpool this weekend against West Ham

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Liverpool FC Training Session Liverpool FC Training Session

    Liverpool’s leading striker could return to action this Saturday after five months out.

  8. How will Chelsea, Manchester City line up in huge Premier League clash?

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:02 PM EST

    Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    With players out and title dreams on the line, how will Chelsea and City line up on Saturday?

  9. VIDEO: Jurgen Klinsmann’s a stud, backheels TWO balls at the same time

    Jan 29, 2015, 11:43 AM EST

    jurgen_klinsmann Getty Images

    Watch Klinsmann’s insane piece of skill from the friendly vs. Chile on Wednesday. My word.

  10. Lots drawn: Guinea in, Mali out as Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals set

    Jan 29, 2015, 11:08 AM EST

    FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH24-GUI-MLI FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH24-GUI-MLI

    Guinea won the lottery and are through to the last eight. Here’s the quarterfinal field for AFCON.

  11. Freddy Adu heading back to MLS? Reports claim two teams interested

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:45 AM EST

    Fredy Adu made his first start for Bahia in Brazil. Getty Images

    Former D.C. United, RSL and Union player heading back home?

  12. DONE DEAL: Arsenal, West Brom and Villarreal all got new players Wednesday

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    arsenal.com arsenal.com

    So what went down on Wednesday, as the transfer window took another step toward slamming shut?

  13. VIDEO: Christian Eriksen scores a free kick for the ages in League Cup semi

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:20 PM EST

    Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Set up for a free kick outside the 18, Eriksen not only sent an arrow whizzing over the goal, but he managed to spin it into the far upper 90.

  14. Real Madrid will change the name of the Santiago Bernabeu

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:58 PM EST

    Bernabeu Getty Images

    The La Liga giant has woked out a sponsorship deal with United Arab Emirates-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

  15. USMNT postgame reaction: Jozy unsure of 3-5-2, Klinsmann explains changes

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:17 PM EST

    Klinsmann AP

    Jurgen Klinsmann remained upbeat, while Jozy Altidore was obviously disappointed.

Featured video

Top five Premier League goals: Week 22